Transport groups agree to call off strike-A A +A
Thursday, September 15, 2011
MANILA -- Transport groups vowed to call off the planned transport strike to protest the series of fuel price hikes following a three-hour dialog with President Benigno Aquino III on Wednesday, an energy official said.
"They (transport groups) will not go on strike as they saw that we are very open to dialog with them," Energy Undersecretary Jay Layug said in a press briefing after the dialog, which was attended by at least 30 transport leaders.
He noted, however, that Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng Tsuper at Opereytors Nationwide (Piston) did not categorically agree to call off the strike but the administration believed that they will do so because of the result of the dialog.
"The meeting went well. It was very constructive. And most of the points raised by the transport leaders were valid," Layug said.
Concerns raised by the transport groups include extortion from traffic enforcers, requests to review the oil deregulation law, the implementation of a single-ticketing system for traffic violations, and the issuance of additional franchises.
Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the President assured the transport groups that the government will do its best to address the problem in extortion, which involves policemen.
"We will not tolerate extortion," she said.
She added that the President instructed Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo to investigate the matter and punish erring police officers.
Malacañang is also open to review the oil deregulation law as requested by the transport groups.
Valte said the amendment of the said law is one of the main concerns of Piston secretary-general George San Mateo.
"Sir George submitted a recommendation paper to the President on how to improve the oil deregulation law. We will study it," she said.
She added that the President ordered all concerned agencies to review the oil deregulation law, which was passed during the Ramos administration in 1995 that resulted in the government's lack of control in the prices of oil products.
The President also directed the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to order the enforcement of the single-ticketing system in all cities in the capital.
Aquino, meanwhile, rejected the appeal of the transport groups to lift the moratorium on the issuance of franchises by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).
Layug said the implementation of a second tranche of the fuel subsidy program was not discussed during the dialog.
However, he said the government has enough funds for the program and they could also implement a second reloading of the Pantawid Pasada cards if necessary.
"We have funds for it. The original program was 300 million for public utility jeepneys. We have been mandated by the President to institute the necessary platform for second reloading depending on the final list of the transport drivers," he said.
San Mateo, meanwhile, said in a television report that Piston will pursue with the transport strike and will announce on Thursday the schedules of the protests.
The dialog was attended by several Cabinet officials, including Transportation Secretary Manuel Roxas II, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Metro Manila Development Authority Chairman Francis Tolentino and Justice Secretary Leila de Lima.
Aside from San Mateo, other transport leaders present were Claire dela Fuente of Integrated Metro Bus Operators Association; Efren de Luna of the Philippine Confederation of Drivers and Operators-Alliance of Concerned Transport Organizations, Obet Martin of Pasang Masda, Orlando Marquez of Liga ng Transportasyon at Operators sa Pilipinas Inc.
1-UTAK Party-list Representative Vigor Mendoza also joined the meeting. (Jill Beltran/Sunnex)